Film Review – TRON: Legacy

It’s been a long wait for Tron:Legacy, the original movie came out 28 years ago, and was groundbreaking for both Disney and computer animation generally. While a sequel has always seemed inevitable, the long delay seemed inevitable. How do you follow up a movie that was so ahead of it’s time?

The plot focuses on Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the 27 year old son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), hero of the original movie. Rebellious, bike riding, heir without a cause, Sam is still haunted by his father’s disappearance. When family friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) informs Sam he’s received a page from a number that has been discontinued for more than 20 years from the old Flynn’s Arcade, Sam goes to check it out. He discovers Kevin’s secret basement office and finds himself pulled into The Grid, the digital world of the first movie. Much advanced since his father’s first visits, Sam finds himself battling for his life against the digitised version of his father, Clu, while trying to rescue Kevin and pull him back into the real world,

First things first, the film looks amazing. 3D works well, the visuals are as exciting and breathtaking as you would hope. There are light cycles, disc battles and solar sailors, all of which look superb. The light cycles in particular are impressing, using 3 dimensional space to battle and block each other off. Similarly the costume design updates the originals beautifull and the Daft Punk soundtrack is perfectly in keeping with the tone of the film. In these respects the movie ticks all the right geek boxes.

However, the plotting is terrible. The opening real world sequences seem to set up a villain that never manifests (suggesting assumptions of a third movie), and once on The Grid, the rules on how this virtual world works chop and change to suit purpose. Almost as soon as Sam arrives in the digital world he is thrown into participating in Disc Wars, as if the producers were determined to get “money shots” into the film before any plot moves it forwards. To prove this point, the encounter between Sam and Clu is chock full of clumsy exposition, followed by an extended light cycle sequence. It’s almost as if every time the movie flags (and it does, repeatedly), another geek high point is inserted to placate the fans.

Sam is rescued from the light cycle battles by Quora (Olivia Wilde) who takes him to see Flynn, trapped in the Grid and unable to return to the Portal without being tracked by Clu. The appearance of a non-CGI Jeff Bridges is a pleasant relief, especially as young Flynn and Clu seem to have been modelled on Bridges’ death face in Jagged Edge. However the relief is short lived as Flynn has now become something of an old hippie. (He actually says “You’re…messing with my Zen, man” at one point.) Perhaps this is the inevitable effect of being trapped in a virtual world for 20 years, but it makes the plot move at a similar pace to geological drift.

Furthermore it’s never explained how Flynn senior has brought books into the digital world, or indeed the whole baby roast pig that he, Sam and Quora sit down to eat. Indeed you have to ask questions about just how far the lives of the digital avatars go. They eat, they party, they drink alcohol and letch over the girl programs. It feels decidedly like The Simpsons episode where Lisa creates life in a glass of coca-cola with a tooth in it.

First time director Joseph Kosinski does the best he can with a lacklustre script and unremarkable performances. But it’s clear that more love and attention has been focussed on the key events that the fanbase has been expecting, rather than a coherent and engaging story.

The film runs at just over two hours long and drags for most of it. It’s a genuine disappointment that this remake offers so little after such a long wait. It may be churlish to expect style and substance when, if I’m brutally honest, the original also lacked the latter. Perhaps it was never going to be able to live up to my expectations, and perhaps I’ve been over critical. But like Kevin Flynn I expected so much more from this new digital world.

TRON:Legacy is released in the UK on December 17th

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on December 5, 2010.

4 Responses to “Film Review – TRON: Legacy”

  1. I was really looking forward to this, but ended up hating it. The story was awful, the SFX too unreal, the CGI on Jeff Bridges’ face is still a few years away from working the way it should.

    Sorry to say, I was even bored.

    my review
    http://wp.me/p19wJ2-7b

  2. […] enough to attend the Show Film First event at the Empire Leicester Square. Two film screenings (TRON:Legacy and The Next 3 Days which I’ll be reviewing shortly), a couple of online panels (one on […]

  3. the plot really was missing something wasn’t it? great review. Read mine and let me know what you think! I can see we were at the same event in London 🙂

  4. […] Movie Girl 2 […]

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